Q&A With Donna M. Cramer

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Q&A With Donna M. Cramer 

Mickey Mikkelson connected me with Donna M. Cramer. Donna M. Cramer is the author of the Lester the Lion children’s books. The first book in the series is Lester Wants To Roar. The second book is Lester Calls 911. 

Q: Donna, would you like to give a brief description of both Lester Wants To Roar & Lester Calls 911? 

A: Yes, thank you so much!  Lester wants to Roar is about a young lion who is recovering from a concussion.  He is taking longer to heal from his injury than he would like.  He wants to be able to roar again.  There is a recurring line of ‘maybe tomorrow’ as Lester tries various things to get better.  He does recover and on the last page roars again.

Lester Calls 911 is about a young lion who learns about fire safety and calling 911 in an emergency at a school assembly.  He comes home and while playing firefighter uses his mom’s phone and calls 911.  The firefighters come and Lester realizes his mistake and learns the proper use of 911.

Q: Where did the idea for Lester Wants To Roar & Lester Calls 911 come from? What made you want to write for children?

A: I am a retired special education teacher. I worked with students from preschool through first grade for over twenty years, so I know this population well.

Lester Wants to Roar is my story of recovering from a concussion/traumatic brain injury.  I was injured while working with my students with three hits to the head within one week.  I was unable to return to teaching and had years of therapy.  I had trouble speaking, so my speech therapist encouraged me to write.

Lester Calls 911 came from actual experience with my students.  Over the years, I had several students call 911 after learning this vital, necessary skill.  The parents, who were usually quite embarrassed, would tell me that their child had done this; several stated that they wished there was a book explaining the proper use of 911 and when to call.

Q: What lessons do you hope young readers learn after reading Lester Wants To Roar & Lester Calls 911? 

A: The lesson of Lester Wants To Roar is never to give up hope!  Keep trying and keep believing, and you can overcome your problems, whatever they may be.

The lesson of Lester Calls 911 is the proper use of 911 and the fact that we all make mistakes, but we need to learn from them.

Q: Are you currently writing the next book in the Lester The Lion series or are you writing a totally new story?

A: Yes, I have just started the next book in the Lester series.  I don’t have a title yet, but Lester’s grandfather dies, and he learns about death and losing a loved one.

I am working on the correct language because, during my career, I had more than one child who lost a sibling or a grandparent and became very upset when the adults used the term ‘lost’ because, for them, lost meant you might be able to find the person again. I just finished an adult novel about a kidnapped boy called Paul Is Missing, which is currently in the editing process.

Q: Since children are glued more to their tablets in today’s world, what would be your advice to parents who want to get their children to read more books? I think it’s sad that children and adults don’t read as much as they used to. 

A: I think it is sad, too!  My best advice is for the adults to read themselves.  Children model what they see.  Also, I stressed this to the parents when I was teaching: read to your child.  Make it a fun, cuddly activity. Make it part of the bedtime routine.  Find colorful, fun books that interest your child.  While reading, use funny voices, roar like a lion, or whatever will hold your child’s interest.  Children thrive on routine.  Make reading part of a routine; it will come as naturally as brushing your teeth.  Also, many parents are afraid of boring their children.  They will get bored rereading a book.  Boredom is an overstated idea.  Children like repetition.